2021 RBFAA Annual Meeting: September 18


RBFAA Annual Meeting

September 18, 2021

Washington, D.C. | San Francisco | Chicago | Potsdam | Worldwide


“What always impressed me about Bosch Fellowship alumni is the sense of dedication to the transatlantic relationship,” said German Ambassador to the United States Emily Haber, welcoming to her Washington residence 37 years of the Robert Bosch Fellowship for American professionals.

That dedication, she said, included a sense of being a leader and a leading voice in the transatlantic relationship.

While the coronavirus pandemic still puts a strain on personal and professional life worldwide, the RBFAA membership chose to celebrate the immense legacy of the program that helped build transatlantic bonds, but more specifically German-American bonds.

“I have always felt, especially over last years, that the alumni of the Robert Bosch Stiftung were in fact a sort of ‘transatlantic braintrust’ and I can’t begin to make you understand how important that is,” Ambassador Haber continued. “I could see in you a fabric of bonds and knowledge that went far beyond irritants in the transatlantic relationship and existed if we agreed or not. It reminded me and us of the essence of our partnership.”

The keynote address from Spencer Boyer, Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy, shared many of the same themes as brought by Amb. Haber. Communication and relationships are vital to strengthening and maintaining ties in sometimes difficult circumstances.

“We recognize that, as allies, we may not always agree on every issue, and in fact sometimes have very, very strong disagreements,” Boyer said. “But that doesn’t negate the fact that we need to always communicate honestly and openly when we do have our differences. We are countries who stand together shoulder to shoulder to face immense challenges, whether that be in ensuring a lasting defeat of ISIS; enhancing stability in Iraq and Syria; deterring Russian malign behavior; upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific; or transporting hundreds of tons of medical supplies around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I think there’s work for all of us to do to strengthen transatlantic relations outside of the White House, or the State Department, or the Pentagon, or even this embassy. My experience both in an out of government has only emphasized to me how important the work outside of government is to help those in government to help push these things forward,” Boyer said, concluding by saying he hoped the groundwork laid by the Bosch Fellowship will continue to serve the German-American partnership well into the future. In fact, he noted that he benefits from the Bosch Fellowship every day because two alumni, Melissa Hanlon from the most recent Bosch cohort, and Torrey Taussig, work in his office.


Transitioning to a new place

As in every gathering, the RBFAA welcomed the returning cohort from Bosch 37, but this year’s event also carried the weight of celebrating the final cohort of the program sponsored by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Instead of awarding just one alumni service award, the RBFAA recognized the entire Bosch 37 class for their strength through challenging times, and to welcome them into the alumni community.

While the legacy program is ending, the RBFAA Board remains engaged with the Stiftung to chart a path forward. The CEO of the Board of Management for the Stiftung, Sandra Breka, addressed the membership and voiced appreciation and optimism for the relationships of the past and project potential in the future.

“The Robert Bosch Stiftung is proud to see that you, the alumni, are strong advocates for American-German relations,” Breka said. “We could not have wished for a better outcome of the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program in all the years and are deeply thankful for your continued commitment.”

Members took in those remarks from many time zones, including at Cecilienhof outside Berlin, where Clare Waldmann, Cristina Gonzalez, Ebony Buehler, Sarah Kimmerle, and Benjamin Lorch pulled together a fantastic group. In Chicago, Bill Starshak tuned in, along with fellow Bosch alumni tuning in from San Francisco thanks to the work of Anthony Yuen. Each group was shown on monitors at the Ambassador’s residence in Washington, giving at least a virtual connection to friends near and far.


Over the 37 years of the Robert Bosch Fellowship for American professionals so many of us have been able to experience moments in history through our ties to Germany. From life before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall; to life before and after 9/11; to life before and after any single moment in history, our fellows have built relationships rooted in integrity, mutual respect, and fellowship.

The RBFAA’s work does not end with the final cohort of fellows. While many ideas for the future are still being fleshed out, we know that engaging our membership and its tremendous expertise can benefit both ourselves and the greater transatlantic community.

“[The Robert Bosch Fellowship] stood out because it attracted top personnel and became a transatlantic flagship,” Amb. Haber said.

The RBFAA takes that legacy into a new chapter, with the tailwinds of an uplifting and important annual meeting spurring us forward.


With gratitude in service,

Tony Ganzer and Rob Fenstermacher

RBFAA Co-Presidents


You can see the full gallery of our 2021 Annual Meeting photos here!

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